-- Updated -- : June 29th, 2016
Welcome to the graphicxtras site where you can find 1000s of wonderful plugins / presets / brushes / gradients / decorative EPS fonts. You can also find many free samplers, tutorials, videos, etc. All by graphicxtras.com / Andrew Buckle, commercial and personal use, full extended license, all royalty free use. For PC and MAC Photoshop, PaintShop Pro, Affinity Photo, Illustrator etc.
Added bubbles (abstract) layers set - 40 stunning artworks for your use in Photoshop, psp, Affinity Photo etc for commercial use as layers, brush sources, etc June 30th 2016
Added color squares / contour themed brushes on May 4th 2016 / patterns etc for Photoshop and PSP and Affinity Photo etc. 40 Different super colorful designs for commercial use
Updated the Pinked edge shapes page for use with Photoshop and Elements, great for all kinds of frames / scrapbooking
Urban London set released on April 16th, 2016. 40 Different images of street scenes in London such as Soho, etc in vector formats PDF / AI / EPS as well as PNG for use in Photoshop, Affinity Photo, Pages, CorelDRAW, GIMP etc PC and MAC. Commercial
Color cuts released on April 15th 2016. A powerful colorful designs set with multiple color fragmented vector artworks in PDF / AI / EPS and PNG format for use in Photoshop, PSP, Affinity, CorelDRAW etc. Superb as layers, images, brushes and more. Commercial use
Effect lines set released on April 12th, 2016. The set includes hi-impact zoom / manga lines in PDF / PNG / AI / EPS format for use in Photoshop, PSP, Affinity Photo, CorelDRAW, 3D applications and more. You can use them as a great source for new shapes, brushes, textures etc
Flowing lines set released on April 11th, 2016. The set includes 40 different scratchy lines artworks in vector format (PDF, AI etc) for use in Photoshop, PSP etc. Great for use as textures, brushes, displacements etc
Trefoil shapes / brushes etc set released on the April 10th, 2016. The set includes a variety of trefoil themed designs for use in Photoshop, psp, Illustrator, Affinity Photo etc and they can be used as shapes, brushes etc
Stones / rocks textures set released on the April 8th, 2016. The set includes 40 stunning rock themed designs in vector format in EPS and PNG and PDF and AI format. They are for use on the PC and MAC and can be used as brushes, textures, overlays etc in Photoshop, Indesign, Pages, Illustrator, Affinity Photo etc
Color grid set released on April 9th, 2016. The set contains 40 color grid designs all based on polar grid tool in Illustrator. Many different colorful grid designs are included in the set and can be used as brushes, textures etc in tools such as Photoshop and psp etc
Italian type 16c artworks. A set of many different designs including core designs and variants of A B C D E F etc in Italian type 16c style.
Adobe.com - Check out the excellent Adobe.com site for more information about all the custom shapes, brushes, patterns etc and how to use them and load them.
Yet another great release from Adobe (if you are on the subscription model). You can find all the what's new on the Adobe site but here are my thoughts on some of the features. The numbering system is a little confusing (why is one part of the CC .3 and another .5, how confusing is that)
So what is in it ?
1) Face aware liquify plugin. OK, the plugin has been there for a while but this is an impressive addition as you can now manipulate anything that looks like a face and it can also be multiple faces. I have created a quick youtube video on the subject. You can use the tool to change the eyes or slant them or re-size them and you can do a few less modifications with the nose but you can add a smile or a few changes to the mouth. You can also modify the general shape of the face. You can also repeat the effect multiple times to make a really unusual manga etc influenced design. You can also use it as a smart object and you can also use the new face aware features to create a quick animation via the timeline and frames etc. A really neat feature for creating some extreme changes to faces as well as just subtle ones if you need to tweak the eye a little.
2) Select and mask workspace. Probably not something I use a lot or will use a lot but I have found it very effective. It makes selection a whole lot easier by a series of quick clicks and brush strokes as well as removing selections, you can then generate the result as a layer mask / new layer / new document etc and that is pretty good. It removes some previous functionality but this perhaps the best and quickest selection I have ever used. Certain this will be a very popular tool
3) Match font. This is a neat feature but again perhaps not something I will have much call for but if you get a document or have a photo etc of some type and you want to know the typeface name then this is a pretty good tool to use to find out that info. I have selected a lot of type and the data back mostly matches the actual but I have to say I have not pushed it with any really obscure font on my machine or in typekit etc
4) Content aware crop. This is great, it adds to the area if you crop outside of the image. You have to set the content aware to ON though which is off by default. It can be used to create some nice additional data to many images but there are some distortions. I have found that it works best for me with abstract images as it does have some quirky algorithmic features.
5) Adobe Stock Integration. The feature works very nicely now. I am impressed with the changes but I don't use too much Adobe Stock or any stock. I generally create my own material but the features certainly make it easier to use and buy material (which is, of course, what they would want)
6) On canvas glyph alternatives. This is just plain weird but I am certain people who love their type will really like it. It works ok for some fonts but some of the alternatives are odd to me. Could be used to create some very funky type (though personally I prefer the touch tool in Illustrator for that - not the same though). A little selection of boxes and glyphs appears as you go over some type. Not all, but some type. I have yet to work out exactly what makes it appear.
7) 3D Printing. No use to me as I have no 3D Printer and live in a 3D printing desert. I am certain this is a great addition. I would love to see a few more 3D features though, I love 3D but just not the printing as yet
8) It is a lot faster starting and seems faster in many areas such as fonts. Type layers are faster or at least work a lot better.
9) Capture on the Android and Apple. I use Android and perhaps the features are different on the Apple iPhone. The capture tool is a really wonderful app that can capture a variety of pattern styles from an image and then copy that to the CC library and into the Photoshop CC 2015.5. You can also capture a look (basically the colors in the photo) and use the looks in adjustments (which is really great). You can also capture a variety of brushes as well as SVG shapes (why not custom shapes is a little beyond me but you can always work around that via Illustrator and into Photoshop again). Capture works really well combined with PS. Wish that tool had been around at the start of my pattern and brush creating days. The key thing, of course, is that the patterns etc are your own creations and not a scan of something that exists. My scans are of my drawings or my own PS artwork as well as computer generated art from other apps such as Illustrator. The patterns are also of gardens or a street etc.
10) Lots of other things such as color profiles, improvements to artboards, font grouping (useful), brushes (quicker) and much more
I have created a number of videos on my youtube channel and I have found this new release a really decent one. Not full of features that I will use daily perhaps but they are definitely of use and I am certain some will love the new face and select tool.
If you are looking for free items then there are 100s of different free items added via the various pages on the site and that includes free Photoshop plugins as well as free Illustrator symbols, free custom shapes downloads and others. All the free items on the site are for use in commercial as well as personal use, no time limits, they are no different from the release items. How to use them and load them, well I would recommend you check out our Youtube videos to see how to load them, how to apply them as brushes and shapes etc as well as how to modify them and combine them and export them and much more
The graphicxtras.com site has a selection of tutorials on how to use and install the Photoshop custom shapes, brushes, plug-ins, styles, symbols, patterns etc. The key set of tutorials can be found on the Youtube.com 'graphicxtras' section but you can also find many of our tutorials for Photoshop, Affinity Photo etc on Tipdesk.com as well as on this site.
The videos are fairly short as they are mainly concentrated on one subject for a particular application and no attempt has been made to create an all-encompassing video tutorial on every possible way to use the brushes or Affinity photo patterns or how to use the clip studio paint perspective rulers.
The videos are on subjects such as how to use Clip Studio Paint's symmetry ruler or how to use the decoration brush. You can find out zillions of obscure things about the apps as well as many fairly basic (but still not particularly obvious for everyone). The key tutorials page where you can find the links to all the different sections such as Illustrator graphic styles, Illustrator brushes, Photoshop plugins etc
This application is for PC and MAC. It is the premium application for comic book art. Of course you can use tools like Painter and Photoshop and Illustrator to create comic book art but Manga studio (or now, Clip Studio Paint) is the perfect application for creating comic books. You can use it in a number of ways such as using it purely for illustrations and single panels or perhaps using it for a whole page. Up to you how you wish to develop your artwork using single pages or single panels etc or perhaps using the new cel / animation features with the most recent release.
Clip Studio Paint is available from Smith Micro and comes with a huge range of features and it would be impossible to describe all of them. You can use many of the resources on this site but not all of them as the app does not support CSH custom shapes etc or PDF etc but most of the presets on this site are in PNG format or JPG and they can be registered as brush tips or patterns and used with your brush strokes and textures and panels.
Some of my favorite features of CSP are the rulers and guides which are great for creating all kinds of symmetrical artwork, circular drawing and much more. It is quite therapeutic to be able to easily sketch following a circle or parallel lines and so on and it sure beats trying to draw them by hand (I know I couldn't). Related to rulers is the excellent ruler frame section where you can set up perspective - 1 point perspective as well as 2 point and 3 point and the setup can be modified in many different ways to create many exciting and different ways to add pencil sketches and oil paint to your work. You can quickly knock up all kinds of rough sketches with buildings etc using the tool and it is probably the most flexible tool I have seen though I am certain the tools in Cad / Cam artwork are superior. It is a super useful feature for artists.
Another great feature is the vector drawing which is perfect if you build up a page using multiple layers with lower layers being a quick rough drawing and other layers for the color and other layers for the outline of the drawing / inking and so on. The great thing about the vector inking is that you can edit the lines as well as delete and duplicate lines. CSP does have multiple sub tools which can get a little confusing at first but in most cases, you have a history panel to get out of any mess and also a reset tools feature which can return any settings back to the defaults (and how I need that)
CSP also comes with a large number of its own such as different materials, different scenes that can be dragged onto the panel, different focus lines, balloon shapes, borders as well as 3D models that can be used as a template or just combined into your art.
Once you have developed your artwork, the pages and panels can be saved in a variety of format depending on the version you are using so if you are using the top of the range version you can save the work as a PDF etc but if you are using the EX series or PRO then you can save the artwork as PSD and PNG and then import the results into Photoshop and Illustrator for even more re-working.
CSP is a superb application that can be obtained at a very low cost from the Smith Micro site and works well also with many of their other excellent products such as Poser and Anime Studio and Motion Artist.
You can find many new video tutorials on the subject of the Clip Studio Paint via our graphicxtras channel on Youtube.com
TTF / EPS
The font sets on graphicxtras are all decorative art stored in standard true type font format (such as Times New Roman, Verdana, Arial, Tahoma, Proxima, etc). You can access the designs as you would type A B C D E F G etc or lower case, a b c d e etc as well as other characters and numbers.
The font designs are installed by dragging the TTF into the control panel or right click and select the install command on the PC; or load via the fontbook application on the MAC. Once installed, the font sets can be accessed via the type dropdown in many different applications and all you have to do is select the name of the font. This does vary from app to app but most work using a typeface. If it is not a typeface, it will probably be a panel with a dropdown and all the typefaces. The graphicxtras fonts generally all start with GX to make it fairly easy to find them especially if you have a long list of TTF etc files.
The font designs are all vectors so can be used to any size so you can apply them at 16pt and then just re-size them to fill a document 500px x 500px or 10000 px by 10000 px. You can use them to create poster size designs as well as icon sized ones. The designs can be re-colored, warped and distorted, transformed, modified, combined and much more. Use to create millions and millions of different designs. You can also combine them with effects such as oil paint in Photoshop (use them as smart objects etc) or use them with vector effects in Illustrator such as the excellent VectorScribe plugins from Astute Graphics (though you will have to expand the type first)
The fonts can be used in many different applications such as Word, Apple Pages, Photoshop, Affinity Photo, Paint Shop Pro, CorelDRAW, Microsoft Publisher, Photoshop Elements, Photo-Paint, Xara and others.
The font designs also make a great replacements for use as Paint Shop Pro preset shapes though if you wish to use them as a great source for pspshapes you can always convert them by right clicking the type and select the convert to preset shape option and then export the result to a PSPshape format file. You can also use them as a great source for psptubes and other file formats in PSP X8 or X7 etc. PaintShop Pro is a product from Corel Incorporated.
All the font sets also include the same vector designs in EPS format (in most cases, EPS 3 format so a very early format as there is a lot less additional information added and the file size is generally a lot less) so you can import and open the designs in Photoshop via the file open command and also many others such as PSP via the same menu command.
The font shapes can also be quickly converted and used as Paint Shop Pro brushes, Photoshop brushes, patterns and more. If you are looking for artworks that can be used throughout most applications then the fonts sets are best ones to check out, more so than CSH and ABR.
If you are using the fonts in Photoshop, you can use them with the wonderful 3D features and that means that you can turn the vector artwork into a 3D artwork. Simply go to the 3D menu and use one of the extrusion options (there are a few but I wish there were more). You can then export the end result as an OBJ file etc but you can also render the artwork in the app or even print the item off and have it on the mantelpiece.
A great source of information if you are looking for more info about fonts would be the Microsoft typography section or ilovetypography.com or the typographica website
How did I create the TTF and EPS sets on this site, well, they were created mainly in an app called Fontlab Studio which can be found on the same said site. The TTF were generated at the same time as the export of the EPS and they are exactly the same, just a different format and perhaps more flexible if you prefer a standard file format to that of a TTF file especially if you wish to generate the work and send the work to a printer though you can always expand or outline the artwork at any point.
Custom shapes are vector designs for use in Photoshop ® and Photoshop Elements and they can be used in all the versions from PS 6 & PSE 1 (so basically unless you are using a version dating back in 1990, you should be able to use these resources with ease). The shapes are stored in Photoshop shapes format CSH. Sadly the CSH format is not that well supported beyond PS and PSE but there are some plugins that can read the format and use them in tools such as Illustrator. Of course, you can also just copy the vector artwork in PS into apps such as CorelDRAW and Illustrator and Indesign.
Being vectors they can be used in any size of document such as icon size as well as carton or even poster size (though to be honest, I have never seen any of my work on a poster). That is a super useful feature that it shares with the fonts and EPS and PDF designs. Even better is that the CSH is a native format and remains as a vector throughout (unless you blend it with a layer) and can be re-sized at any point.
The shapes can be applied as layers, as selection / paths or just as pixel fills. The option to set the layers / pixels is done via the top bar of Photoshop and you will also find a number of other options where the artwork can be added with a set size or proportionally to the default size or just plain unconstrained (most of the time I use that format when I am adding the vector artworks).
They can be combined in millions of different ways either as a group or using the pathfinder functionality. The vector designs can be edited, transformed using the Photoshop transforms, re-colored (use the current foreground to set the fill color) or use the new fill and stroke settings via the top bar and you can set the color to gradients or patterns, effects can be applied (if you add effects you have the option to turn the work into a rasterized layer or you can turn the layer into a smart object and the choice depends on what you want to do with the work afterwards such as adding brush strokes - it will need to be a rasterized layer or if you wish to use it with effects and change the settings at some later point - it will need to be a smart object), combine them with adjustment layers (with the CC version) and also with layer effects and a whole lot more.
The vector shapes are easy to use and load into Photoshop so simply use the file open command on the CSH file and then select them via the CSH tool (which is generally found beneath the rectangle tool but with the latest CC versions you can now customize the icons and place it anywhere). You can also load them by right clicking the CSH file and selecting the open command and the items will be loaded that way. You can also drag the CSH into the application in some versions. You can also add the items via the preset's panel and use the load (to add them) and replace (to replace the existing set). You can also use the edit menu preset manager to load them quickly into the app.
There are limits on the number of shapes can be loaded into the presets panel but this has been increased recently (was 500 designs with the earlier versions of Photoshop) and so you probably can load at least 100 CSH files. I have never tried to hit the upper limit as what is the point as the app has no way of searching through the vector artworks so if you have a favourite work then it is probably better just to create a panel with those and then save them to a totally different CSH file and load that as and when or with the latest versions of the creative cloud, you can now add the works quickly to the CC libraries and access them that way. There some browser apps that are worth checking out though that can search through all the CSH files and that can be found on the Tumasoft website (they have a number of different tools and they are all super useful)
In Photoshop Elements you can also use the custom shapes via the cookie cutter tool as well as the standard tool. The cookie cutter is really great at quickly chopping away parts of the image and the same can be done in PS but just not as quickly. Not sure why they have never added that tool to the toolbar of PS.
Custom shapes can also be exported via paths or layer to other applications such as Illustrator or exported as a raster image to many other tools. You can save them as PDF format files or EPS and also SVG (super useful for web pages) with the last versions and Adobe's main format PSD (raster and vector data) and PNG files which can be read and accessed in many tools such as Illustrator and CorelDRAW. The custom shapes can be used as a wonderful source for Photoshop brushes, textures displacement maps, patterns, 3D models and more.
With the most recent versions of PS, you can now use the shapes as a great source for 3D models. Go to the 3D menu and select one of the depth / extrusion etc methods (it requires the item to be a layer) and then manipulate the 3D model and if you wish you can export it as an OBJ file etc and import it into applications such as Poser or Daz Studio or just print the object or render the object or flatten and use in your layer / image.
There are many different sets on this site and one of the key sets is the 13,000 vector paths collection and more about that can be found below. The collection set is just a grouping of many of our earlier CSH sets and there have been a number of additions to the set of late (I say it is 13,000 but it probably contains even more). The other sets on the site are more themed with sets devoted to hearts, spirals, arrows, abstracts, arches, gears, easter eggs, swirls, flourishes, art nouveau, steps / art deco, etc and though they are fairly small packs, there are many different artworks included in all the sets for use in your commercial as well as personal projects.
Photoshop plugins are always popular and these have probably been some of our most popular sets. I would like to mention a few other sets though that are really wonderful and that is the Nik plugins collection (now on google) and that contains some really wonderful tools such as Analog Efex, Silver Efex Pro, Viveza, Color Efex Pro, Sharpener Pro Dfine etc and now they are all free. I would say they are amazing. There are also a lot of other great plugin sets that are worth checking out and they are also free and One Software plugins is a great place to check out.
Photoshop plugins are 8BF files. To install the plugins, simply add the plugin files to the correct path of the host applications and this does vary from app to app and some will have it in a filter folder and some will be in a plug-ins folder and some will just add it to a really obscure folder and in most cases the location can be found via the preferences section of the application or via the documentation or just by looking online and some apps will have multiple locations such as for 32bit or 64bit versions or for different processes such as selections. The tools on this site are loaded to a single path, all 180 8BF files and they are all then accessed via the filter menu.
The plugins on graphicxtras.com are only for the PC (Windows 10, windows 7, windows vista, windows XP). The 8BF plugins can be used in many different applications such as Paint Shop Pro, Photoshop, Photoshop Elements, Photo-Paint and many others. The plugins are not filter factory files, they require no additional plugins or dlls to run.
The plugins are from the developer of the Andrew's filters (the Andrew's filters ran to about 1000 or so filters) but the Andrew's plugins are far superior to the original filter series with millions and millions of possible color effects (though some of the later sets were based on the earlier sets but 100s of additional settings were added to them). They all include a big preview screen, zoom features, presets, they can be used as a smart filter so the effects can be modified at any point
The tools can tools can used in combo with other effects such as camera raw filter, filter gallery effects, third party effects but they can also be used in combination with them in actions so all the settings etc can be recorded and replayed without the need to run the dialog. If you create a filter that turns an image yellow, if you apply in four or five times in a row with random settings, the results will often end up in the most unique yellow you can imagine or blurred effect etc. You can also use them in scripting and the best thing about scripting is that it gives repeatable ultimate control over all the effects as it would probably be very time consuming to run a filter 100 times and changing the settings in a controlled manner, a script can do that and in spades.
The 8BF filters all include 100 output options (where the result is manipulated and blended with the original) such as displaying the effect as a tile or as a frame designs or inverted or tile options or posterization or edge settings + many other color effects options. This is also blended with three color control settings for the three color channels (this has not been extended to the black channel for CYMK images) so you can tweak the end result with 16 million additional colors for each pixel.
The plugins also come with effects modes where the effect is applied not as the actual effect but used as a source for a blur or smear or paint effect which creates some truly unique blur and smear and paint effects in seconds. The plugins also include a selection of post processing effects such as adding a near infinite variety of gradient and color effects to the image such as adding radial gradients or different random applications of gradients and more. Oh, how many 8BF are included in the entire Andrew's collection - 180 of them and that is just millions of amazing color effects
They can be applied repeatedly, used in different color channels, used in RGB or CMYK and LAB color modes and much more.
The latest incarnation of the Andrew's series are now all 64bit so you can use them in Photoshop CC 64bit on the PC. Sorry, they are still not available for the mac. Hope that can be changed one day.
Adobe Stock Photos has an interesting range of photos and videos and illustrations. I don't want to get into comparisons with other stock photo sites as if you find the photo you want and at the price you want to pay for it, the site is then perfect.
There are (according to the site) 5o million photos and I haven't looked at them all. The search is odd but then again, perhaps that is purely over excessive search keywords. Still, say you search for 'red shirt' it does return a lot of pictures with red shirts and ultimately that is the key thing. Sadly, it does also return a number of photos with people not with red shirts so not so helpful all the time. It also has a find similar and even that does return some odd results at times but generally the pictures returned are what I would expect in the first page or two.
Quality, again, they are fine for my purposes but if you are using them for a particular project then your opinion may vary. I have download some excellent photos and some I have been sort of ok with. I tend to mess around with the images anyway so I suspect my opinion is not a valid as perhaps a professional photographer or someone using the videos in a 4K film.
Really don't feel the stock photos sit easily within the apps at present but then again, I prefer just going to the website and looking for the images.
The only thing is the standard and extended license. The standard license does add a few restrictions such as the "printed documents" limited to 500,000. I always love those limits (not) as I suspect I am not going to remember that it is 500,000 (not that I will ever hit that limit) but do I have to keep count (I want to sleep at night). Anyway, that is ok and it is a minor niggle.
The plugin set from Nik (and now supplied free from google). The set includes Analog Efex Pro, Color Efex Pro, Silver Efex Pro, Viveza, HDR Efex Pro, Sharpener Pro and Dfine. Each of these plugins is an universe of effects.
Analog Efex Pro is a tool to add the classic looks of a variety of cameras. Color Efex Pro is a great tool for all kinds of color corrections and for creating some truly extreme color effects. Silver Efex Pro is a powerful black and white digital Photography tool for creating all kinds of b&w / sepia / grain effects. Viveza is powerful tone / color tool. HDR Efex is great for natural and artistic effects. Sharpener Pro is great for enhancing an image (I must admit, my least used of the filters). Dfine for contrast and noise (this is probably one of the least control filled Nik plugins)
To be fair, the descriptions above are very limited as the tools have many different controls and lots (lots) of presets to tryout. Control points are one particular useful feature of the tools as you can modify the effect in a more localized way (though I would like to see the opposite added where the outside area is the area modified and the focus area for the control point is unchanged with perhaps a level of feathering and falloff curves and manipulation by a contour but sadly that feature does not exist in the current version). Some of the mini-apps have a recipe approach and I love that, a bit like the filter gallery in Photoshop where multiple items are added into the mix and the filter is more than just a glamour glow or soft focus or infra red etc though again, not to sound like moaning, I would love to see some blending feature to mix these effects.
The filters also come with a brush feature which allows for even more localized effects
They also have an interesting way of applying the effect, they take the original image and create a new layer and generate the result on that so you end up with two layers so you can alway add additional blends to the effect. Of course, you can do exactly the same with all the filters but it is good to see the tool do that bit for you as it is always so easy to forget to pre-duplicate the layer.
My favourite has to be the Silver Efex Pro. Photoshop is fine with B & W and grayscale conversions but this filter does it all so much better and gives 100s of great options as well as presets. It also comes with film types, levels and curves, grains, finishing adjustments such as sepia and various cynaotypes etc as well as vignettes and burn edges as well as image borders. Silver Efex Pro is one of those tools that can be used in 1000s of ways and, of course, you can still then combine the result with the original layer to get even more amazing artworks. As well as a brush and control points.
The brushes are for use in Illustrator CC CS6 CS5 CS4 CS3 CS2 CS1 10 (though some earlier packs also work with version 8 but 99% of the later sets are purely from 10 onwards as it is pointless to support a version that so few people probably use - I have no idea, perhaps lots of people are still using version 8 from about 1995 but I doubt it).
The Illustrator brushes are all accessed via the brushes panel (this can be found via the Illustrator window and brushes command. The brushes are all stored in standard AI format and can be loaded via the brushes panel (right side menu) and by selecting the presets they are added to the current opened document's own library. Once loaded into the preset panel you can then modify all the settings such as the angle or scattering or perhaps changing the colors of the artwork and tints and much more so a basic preset can be turned into all kinds of new and wonderful work. You can also just use the AI file supplied (there are 100s of AI files supplied as it would be tricky to include all of the 16,000 strokes from graphicxtras in a single AI file) as just a normal set of artworks and many of the presets are displayed in the AI file in artboards though some of the earlier sets include the items only in the panel and that does mean that to use them you will have to drag the preset from the panel to the artboard and then just use them as a layer etc. It should be noted that those with the items on the artboards can also be opened and used in other applications that fully support AI files such as tools in other parts of the Creative Cloud (I hope at some point that all the applications in the Adobe Creative Cloud will be able to handle other resources from other apps, it does seem amazing that after so many versions it is still a struggle to use the resources from one app in another)
The brushes types in Illustrator are calligraphic, artistic / art, scatter, bristle and pattern. Bristle tool was added with CS5. They can be applied to an existing selected path, they can be applied to text, they can be applied to a frame as well as just being added as a stroke or used as an independent path
Editing the strokes is very easy, simply drag them from the preset panel to the artboard and edit them and then copy them back into the panel or if you wish to just edit the settings then simply double click the items in the panel and you will see a dialog with a number of settings such as the tint and direction etc. You can also use the same approach to turn the artwork into perhaps a standard image layer by exporting the generated path to Photoshop or Affinity Photo etc or by converting the artwork into a symbol via the symbol panel or saving it to the swatches panel and then continuing to edit the result via the object menu and the pattern editor.
Brushes can be complex or basic, they can be made up of a single element or multiple elements and you can bring in images, etc into the stroke to create some truly awesome imagery.
With CS5 and beyond, you can also combine the art / artistic brush stroke with the width tool to create even more interesting artwork and as the width tool (via the toolbox) can further manipulate the stroke at any point in the creative process. It does often end up adding a lot more points to the path but the results can be worth it. You should perhaps also check out the excellent Widthscribe tool from Astute Graphics which can manipulate the width tool / profiles (or 'beautiful strokes') in 1000s of unique ways. If you want to remove the number of points generated then Astute Graphics also has a really useful smart removal tool (you can tell that I really like their tools !)
The color of the stroke is either the actual color of the brush stroke or the current color depending on the tint / shade settings of the tool and this can be changed based on the tint setting within the stroke panel. The actual design can be changed at source so if you always want a yellow or green stroke then you can just change it before you define the item as a preset.
The size of the brush stroke depends on the stroke width / weight. If there is no stroke, then there will be no brush stroke. Brush strokes can be applied throughout the application but they can be exported to other applications so the results can be used in tools such as After Effects, Premiere and Photoshop for example.
You can, at any point, modify the brushes and save them to a new AI file or overwrite the existing file (though if you do I would recommend that you make a backup of the AI file first). The resources in the collection can be considered as a starting point for some truly stunning designs.
The brushes sets now contain the dabs in ABR (the standard format for PS and PS Elements) and PNG format files (earlier sets only contain the brushes in ABR format) for use as brushes in Paint Shop Pro / Xara / Photo-Paint, Affinity Photo, Clip Studio Paint and many other applications. The brushes are all stored at 300 DPI though this can vary and they are mixed sizes.
The ABR brushes are easy to use and load, simply access via the Photoshop file open command and load all the brushes into the Photoshop panel. If you are using the PNG strokes then they are also simple to load but you need to load them via the file open command or file place command and then use the edit menu define brush command but this can be automated via the batch process and actions so you don't have to add one PNG file at a time. There are also many other sets on the site that contain the files in vector EPS format and JPG and they are also loaded much the same way in PS and PS Elements
The strokes can be used in the many tools that are included in the PS toolbar such as the pencil, smudge, sharpen, dodge tool, burn tool, sponge tool, art history, history, stamp, clone etc though with the recent release of CC you can now finally customize the toolbar and that means tools such as the burn and dodge and sponge can be consigned to extra tools section. I would love to see more paint tools added to the toolbar, though personally I can't see that happening any time soon.
Once loaded into the panel, the brushes can be modified, re-colored, used as frames, use as pattern stamps and more. They can also just be used as standard layers or images alone (though perhaps with the addition of shapes and other effects). They can also be combined in millions of ways so a single set of artworks can be suddenly turned into even more amazing and unique artworks and they can also be combined with effects and layer effects for even more wow factor. If you are using another application such as CorelDRAW or Affinity Photo etc then the loading is slightly different but you can find a lot of documentation on the web as well as many tutorials on the subject by graphicxtras
The Photoshop brushes sets range from realistic dabs such as ink blots and pencils to weird and wonderful abstract paint effects, arrow tools, letter themed designs, scratchy tools, numbers, geometric artwork, noise strokes and more. Of course, you can still modify them in millions of ways simply by adding effects to them (my favourite is always the oil paint as well as cutout and raw camera filter.
One trouble with PS strokes is the lack of a good internal feature to search for them and organize them. I would love to see Bridge expand to more than a tool for PNG, PSD etc files and also include the search for ABR, CSH, PAT etc. You can check out the Tumasoft Preset browser and that handles ABR files and you can see the results of each of the sets via that as well as export the items to PNG etc
The pattern sets now contain Photoshop and Photoshop Elements patterns (PAT format) as well as PNG format files for use as Paint Shop Pro or Xara Photo & Graphic Designer and many others. The patterns files are all 300 DPI.
The patterns can be used in the Photoshop fill command as well as fill layer command and also as brush textures as well as via the flood fill and also via the layer styles and also the pattern stamp tool in the toolbar. Using them in PSP, the PNG format files can be added to the PSP patterns folder and then accessed via the PSP material panel. Other applications have their own ways to open and use the files such as Clip Studio Paint where you have to register the files and they can then be used via the material's panel.
You can use the patterns as layers and as layers, you can combine them in millions of ways either using the included transparency or using opacity or blending modes. You can also convert the layer into a smart object and then add effects to the layer as well as modify the color of the pattern via the adjustments and also add shadows and bevels etc by adding layer effects.
You can also use them in video timeline. The layers can be re-positioned over time. You can also use the patterns via the overlay feature in layer effects and this can modified over time via the video timeline. Photoshop has a timeline but other apps also have this feature (I wish they all would) and you can also use the pattern tiles in tools such as the excellent After Effects and other video production tools.
With the most recent versions of Photoshop, you can now use the patterns in the edit menu with scripts and the scripts include a whole range of different options such as symmetry (which also includes 32 variants) along with random fill (my favorite) along with brick fill etc. The tiles for the scripts work best if the source has transparency (and many of the sets on this site do). The transparency means you can layer the tiles in much more convincing ways, non-transparency tiles just end up as a collection of dabs. The tiles can also be pre-modified by adding special effects to them or perhaps adding layer effects such as shadows and strokes (it would be great if the scripts also offered that along with variations of shadow etc but sadly that is not the case)
The Photoshop patterns can also be used as a great source for displacement maps, textures and glass distortions and they can also be used as a great source for brush strokes either by using the source tile as a source stroke or using the result of the tile or part of the result of a tile.
The patterns can also be quickly converted to JPG or other file formats and then used in Painter and other applications. Some sets on this site are also supplied in JPG format as well as EPS format and that really depends on the set and this will be noted in the description of the set.
13,000 Custom Shapes collection + special bonus selection for Photoshop and Photoshop elements includes number shapes, letter / word art, star shapes, distorted, warped shapes, frame shapes, arrows, weird widgets and 1000s of more shapes from graphicxtras. All for Photoshop Creative Cloud / CS6-6 and Photoshop Elements 14.0 through to version 1 - this is the official site for the set. CSH format.
Vectors for any size of work.
13,000 Truly stunning designs for all your projects all of them for commercial use, all royalty-free, world wide use, no credit required nor any time limits imposed, all are by graphicxtras.com / Andrew Buckle. All the custom shapes can be used to create items for sale.
You can modify the custom shapes, warp them, use them as layers, convert them to raster formats, export the designs, use them as a source for 1000s of Photoshop brushes, combine them, distort them, transform them, apply layer effects, apply Photoshop plugins and much more. A truly awesome toolkit of great designs for all kinds of work. Unique items, not repeated throughout the site -- this is not the bundle of all the other shapes sets.
Any questions, please e-mail us on supportDELETE@DELETEgraphicxtras.com. Adobe and Photoshop are registered trademarks of Adobe Systems Incorporated.
In Photoshop CS6 and CC, the custom shapes can be flat shapes (as always) but they can also be used in 3D. In fact, they make pretty decent 3D tools.
Select a custom shape (any from graphicxtras.com or otherwise) and then go to the 3D menu or go to the 3D panel (either works well but the 3D panel is probably easier as all the options are in one place. The 3D shape can be turned into a 3D postcard, 3D extrusion, used as a mesh (added to a cone, cube wrap, donut, hat, pyramid etc), 3D volume and a 3D mesh from depth map (plane, two sided, cylinder, sphere etc).
The generated 3D shape can be manipulated in millions of different ways, materials can be added as can different renders (the custom shape can be turned into a sketched or cartoon design). The generated 3D shape can also be exported as OBJ and other file formats and then be used in powerful applications such as Poser or Carrara and 3D studio Max.
One word of warning though, if you are on the creative cloud and you upgrade to 16.1, you might notice the 3D menu is no longer available (as I have found out to my cost). One machine is fine, another (a lot older machine) sadly hasn't got the required video memory and the menu is disabled. A real pity as the 3D worked fine with just 256MB but now, 512MB seems to be the minimum. So be aware of this if you upgrade your Photoshop to the latest and greatest. It is still a fine upgrade with some nice new features such as CSS copy for shapes and text.
What are the best 3D apps though, really depends on your requirements. I use Poser, Daz 3D Studio, Blender, Cheetah 3D etc and they can all be used to import the 3D models from Photoshop and manipulate them in 1000s of different ways. Another powerful tool that is worth checking out and is free is Sculpturis and that supports OBJ files (though the results can be interesting to put it mildly). Many 3D apps are quite expensive but luckily many of the companies want you to get into the app and are happy to add free personal copies etc for teaching purposes etc, a really good one to check out is Houdini and there is also the amazing Maya and they also have a personal edition. It is a pity there are no such free editions for some of the amazing video apps such as Final Cut Pro though (I always use After Effects from Adobe but that does need the subscription model and the Creative Cloud).
The set includes basic strokes, splatters, crayon brushes, chalk, pencil strokes, realistic Photoshop brushes, hearts, numbers, frames, crosses, scratch marks, grunge, distressed, rough, smudgy, sketches, blots, wispy and more.
The artworks are all 300 dpi. Varied sizes. All 10,000 Photoshop brushes are by graphicxtras.com (Andrew Buckle) - commercial use, all royalty-free. Stunning hi-powerful strokes for Adobe Photoshop CC 2015 (and probably CC 2016 CC 2017 etc) CS6 CS5.5 CS5 CS4 CS3 to 6 and Photoshop Elements 14 - 1 (though not for other software unless they are converted to another format such as PNG or TIFF and this has to be done manually in Photoshop but if you have a preset browser application then the task is a lot quicker - I wish Adobe Bridge would support ABR files). The presets included in the set are all in Standard ABR format and so can only be used with PS if you don't convert them.
You can load via them via the presets panel or just double click the ABR file or in some cases, drag the ABR file into the app. The choice is yours. If you wish to have them easily at hand it will be best to add them to the presets folder of Photoshop and then they can be loaded by name. You can always replace and load different sets and then save your own selection of the strokes to a totally different set of ABR files filled with your favorites. Another option to make it even easier would be to add the strokes to the CC libraries and then they are instantly accessible.
Use with the paint tools / smudge tool / blur / pencil / clone / art history brush as well as other brush strokes - easy to use and apply via the PS toolbox. This brushes collection set only contains the designs in ABR format only so can only be used with Photoshop and Photoshop Elements, though you can always use the dabs within the application to export to other application for use as new brushes in those applications.
There is no overlap with the other Photoshop brushes sets on this site, all the presets in this set are totally unique. Use the Photoshop brushes to create fashion designs, packaging, logos, templates, kits, book designs, adverts, videos and much more.
The strokes are all for PC (Windows 10 / 7 / XP / Vista) and MAC OS X (10.11, 10.10 etc).
The set can be used throughout the Adobe Creative Suites. You can modify the Photoshop brushes in 1000s of ways via the brushes panel where you can add dual brushes, grain, scattering, rotation, opacity settings and much more. You can also use the brush strokes in the new mixer brushes to smudge and blur and mix the brush strokes in even more ways. You can re-color and combine and modify the brushes in 100s of great ways to create amazing designs. You can use the brush strokes throughout the application and combine with powerful effect designs to create even more amazing brush strokes and designs in seconds.
The set includes brushes documentation giving many details about the use of the tools (though personally I think there is far more useful tips via our graphicxtras channel on youtube.com); also included in the collection set is a set of thumbnail galleries showing all the Photoshop brushes in the 10,000 collection and also a serial number for any future updates.
Adobe and Photoshop are registered trademarks of Adobe Systems Incorporated.
This is a truly amazing selection of great brushes for all your projects. If you have any questions about the collection, please contact us and we will happily answer any questions about the ABR brush files and their uses.
A huge selection of different brush strokes for use throughout the application. All are vector designs, all for any size of work and can be used to create works the size of an icon or a poster and anything in between. The Illustrator brushes are all in standard AI format - all are very easy to load and install into the application via the brushes panel. They can be used on the PC and MAC OS X.
The Illustrator brushes are for commercial use, all royalty-free, use them to create items for sale. Use them create logos, books, templates, kits, documents, packaging, wrapping, surf boards, fashions, posters, fabrics, textiles, hats, fashions, ceramics and much more. All the Illustrator brushes are by graphicxtras.com (Andrew Buckle).
The resources are spread over many different AI file - the entire collection runs to approximate 132MB of brushes (on purchase of the set you are sent the 132MBs worth of vector designs along with documentation and a gallery and a serial number for use with any updates). The vector brushes are a mix of scatter (where the items are sprayed across the artboard depending on the scattering and spacing settings) and artistic (a single stretched artwork design).
You can also use the strokes as a source for normal vector resources / paths as well as sources for other tools within the application. You can use them with the brushes tool but you don't have to do that, you can simply add them to type as well as paths such as circles etc or just a single straight line. You can also combine them with other types of artwork by using the appearance panel. You can also add multiple strokes to a single path by using the appearance panel and then blend them with any number of visual effects included with the application.
The great thing about the resources is that they can also be converted into symbols simply by dragging them to the symbol panel and they can also then become dynamic symbols for even more amazing colorful work. You can also use the strokes with the patterns and add them to the swatches palette. With the latest CC releases, you can also use the Illustrator brushes with the CC libraries and save the work to that
If you have any questions about the uses of the brush strokes, please contact us on supportDELETE@DELETEgraphicxtras.com.
Always happy to help with any questions about the strokes - as well as send additional samplers
Create a new document or opening an existing document is much the same as before though you will notice that many of the user controls have changed and are now more consistent with some of the rest of the Adobe Creative Suite. You can set the number of artboards etc as well as the color modes or select a template to use (hardly ever but it does have its uses).
I generally use the artboards set at 100 which is perhaps a little extreme but as I use AI for creating all the shapes and brushes etc and as most of my sets contain 100 items, 100 artboards is often the norm. I really wish I could create 101 artboards or more - why just 100?? Many of the controls have up / down controls so you can click up and down to control the number of rows and columns to use etc. Most of the controls in the AI follow this same approach - though you will also find sliders etc but these are for larger ranges than just 1, 2, 3, etc
With the latest version of Photoshop, you can now use Artboards there also but the approach is slightly different. It combines the artboard and layers in a slightly non-Illustrator way. Still, proves useful for many a project.
This is definitely an under used tool but it is still an effective tool in Illustrator. Where is the polar grid tool in Illustrator, well you can find it in the toolbar along with the line segment tool and arc and spiral and rectangular grid. It is at the bottom of the pile. Anyway, it can be added as is by simply selecting it and then creating the current settings artwork on the artboard. The initial settings creates a circular or elliptical grid that has 5 concentric dividers and 5 radial dividers but you can set them to a lot more than that or set them to 0 and create concentric circles as well as radial burst designs as well as a lot in between. You can also fill the grid and also use that with the live paint bucket to create super colorful circular grids. The polar path is just a set of lines so you can expand them to use them as just fills. You can also use them as a set of strokes and modify the result of the polar grid by adding width profiles, different strokes, different brushes etc to the design. You can create more than one grid and then combine them in millions of different ways. You can use them with visual effects such as blurs and pucker and bloat etc. The results can be added to the CC libraries or simply copied over to Photoshop and other apps to be combined and manipulated in raster images as well as vector artwork.
A winner for me for creating really abstract designs with type. You can find the tool beneath the type tool in Illustrator, it is at the bottom of that grouping. It only works if you have some actual text to play with so create the paragraph or single word or even page and then select the tool. Once you have the tool up and running you just have to click a character to start manipulating it. You will see a little bounding box appear around that character alone and you can re-size and rotate and drag the character around within a defined confine. The tool does nothing more than what can be be achieved with tweaking the settings of the type panel such as changing the horizontal scale, vertical scale, baseline shift, character rotation and so on. It is just a whole lot easier using a touch tool (and it is really for a touch screen but you can use it with a standard mouse or art-pad). As you move the single character around, you will often notice that you hit the limits of the tool and you will not be able to move the character any further and if you wish to really go overboard with the characters then the best way is to expand the word and paragraph and then shift the vectors around independently but you will not be able to re-edit the word etc. You can also change the color via the toolbar while using the tool. You can use it to create all kinds of amazing type creations and it is worth a number of hours of experimentation. Once you have finished with one character, you can always then click another character and start to work on that. The touch type tool works super well with all the fonts available on this site so you can shift individual decorative designs as well as normal text.
For me, the biggest change with the most recent versions of Illustrator (I am certain others will say it is the interface etc) but for me, the pattern editor is a massive change and a big help in the development of patterns and I love to create tiles.
It is not perfect, it only creates a limited number of types but I have found constant use for it since the release. It is so easy to use - simply select a design and apply the editor via the object menu (actually you don't even have to start with anything, you can start with an empty bounding box) You can then manipulate the paths etc in countless ways (transform, color, duplicate, modify etc) and then just click the 'save a copy' - neat solution as it means you can save tiles over and over without exiting from the current work-flow. Once you are done, click "done" but in my case, I more often or not just click the cancel option as I have saved via the copy functionality the work as I have gone along and create numerous tiles from a couple of shapes. Indispensable. You can also add additional paths as well as remove parts of paths, you can also combine different colors, use the color guides etc to create even more amazing tile artworks.
The editor does allow for grid type tiles, hex ones and also brick - love to see a wider selection of types at some point and it would be great if it was easy to be able to copy the results quickly over into Photoshop.
You can add the tiles to all kinds of paths in Illustrator. You can also combine the swatches in many different ways by using the appearance panel. Simply select the add new fill or add new stroke (and this can be done multiple times) as well as combine the results with live effects and also effects from various companies such as Astute Graphics and Artlandia (they have a selection of really powerful pattern tools such as SymmetryWorks and SymmetryShop and SymmetryMill)
One nice addition is that you can apply gradients to a stroke. OK, doesn't sound much but a whole range of painted effects, colorful blurry effects and much more are now suddenly available. To use the gradients on a stroke, simply just select one of the presets while accessing the stroke color and then go to the gradient's panel.
You can now apply the gradient within the stroke and along the stroke and across - a decent combination of setting. The easiest way to describe it is to just add the presets to a single line segment tool but, of course, you can add the preset to any stroke path. You can then just go to the gradient panel and select the across / along etc option and the resulting stroke will change. You can set it to linear as well as radial (personally the best result seems to come from the radial option as the linear seems quite flat). You can also then change the size / width as well as use the width profile to create all kinds of weird and wonderful shapes from the artwork and give the stroke a real 3D like feel especially using the across option. You can also use the appearance panel to duplicate the stroke and preset and then combine them using blending modes and opacity as well as different width profiles as well as the dash options. Tutorial on combining across and along stroke in Illustrator (youtube)
You can manipulate the opacity and color stops of the applied gradient as well. Combining the on stroke option with the appearance panel where you can multiple strokes and multiple strokes with gradients (across or otherwise) and effects, you can create truly beautiful frames and edges to paths - you can also apply these same effects to brush strokes for some surreal painted designs. It really is an area to explore and explain or even touch on half of the possible options with this subtle change, would be hard. Oh, did I even mention about combining the whole thing with the color guide as well.
You can also the opacity settings to create some truly awesome blurry frames
Another feature that I really love in the new CC / CS6 Illustrator - Image trace. I used the old trace a lot and it is was OK, it was decent but I quite often would go to another application (Corel Trace). With CS6, the Image trace is so much faster and is so much easier to use and the results are generally impressive - a lot less points and much cleaner traces throughout. A lot of good presets and a whole lot more. Some things work slightly different from the earlier trace but overall, this is a massive improvement.
Place a file or open a file or paste an image file and then use the image trace button to trace the design or select a preset. Once in the dialog, you can select a preset (again - I love presets) or just work with the threshold setting etc. For more fun, you can click on the advanced icon to see a number of other features such as paths, corners, noise, whether to create strokes / fills (very useful) and ignore white (very useful) as well as some basic stats for the conversion.
The image trace results can also be saved to the CC libraries and the results then can be quickly used in Photoshop. The Image trace can be tidied up in a number of ways using the simplify feature but personally I prefer the "Smart Brush Removal Tool" which can be found in the VectorScribe set from Astute Graphics.
If you want to find out more about the image trace
Big thumbs up as I use the image trace a lot and it has been very stable and very quick.
Photoshop, Illustrator, Fireworks, Flash, Indesign, Adobe are registered trademarks of Adobe Systems Incorporated. Corel, Painter, PaintShop Pro are registered trademarks of Corel Corporation. Xara is trademark of Xara Software. Microsoft is trademark of Microsoft Corporation.
Apple, Pages are registered trademarks of Apple.
Probably the first app I ever used, Painter 2. Mark Zimmer and Tom Hedges had originally released a mac product called ColorStudio and ImageStudio, never used them. Fractal Design released Painter and it was amazing, it is still pretty amazing even though it has gone through quite a few changes over the years and a lot of additions, it is one of those apps that looks very similar (and some of the panels still seem that way) to the earlier version. The latest version is 2016 and it is by corel.com though I am using 2015, I don't upgrade each and every version though the 2016 has some really wonderful new features such as audio expression and I will just wait for Painter 2017 to try that feature out more (just looking forward to combine my piano playing and brush strokes)
Painter has quite a few competitors now (such as ArtRage) and you can also now use Corel's own plugin for Photoshop, ParticleShop. Rebelle from Escape Motion is also a pretty decent new application on the block. Autodesk Sketchbook Pro is another and I would definitely add in Clip Studio Paint. I still think 2016 is way ahead of the pack and it is an unique set of tools. The brushes set is just wow and there are so many possible variations and ways of manipulating those tools, as mentioned, even with sound now (will there be a smell brush available with Painter 2017 perhaps)
With each version, more and more realistic tools as well as unusual brushes are added. I particularly love the particle brushes but many of the other tools such as ink, liquid ink, impasto, sponges etc are all amazing. The tools all come with a near infinite selection of settings to be able to manipulate the core tool such as changing the stroke type, dab profile, spacing, time deposition, gravity particle, spring settings, bristles, method such as cover, sub category such as grainy hard cover (not all instantly obvious), rake, well, mouse settings, expressions, resaturation and more
It has a wonderful Kaleidoscope and Mirror painting feature and that works well with many of the features of the application. The Kaleidoscope feature is pretty fast and flexible with a number of different settings though sadly it does not work well with effects. Come on Adobe Photoshop, please add that feature to your CC 2016 CC 2017 etc
There are a few resource sets available on this site. The PNG files do not work with the tool directly as the app uses 24bit only, so if you do wish to use the PNG files then you will have to convert them from 8bit to 24bit etc but there are some nozzles sets (the nozzle sets were my first created sets anywhere) as well as grains The format of the nozzles and grains has changed over the years and the presets are in the older format but they are still supported by version 2016. The plugins for the PC available on this site work fine with the 64bit version of the application.
Shapes are one area that have always been a bit of a disappointment. They are more stable than in previous versions (they always seemed to crash in the early days) but there is no feature for custom shapes etc and the editing and features are limited. Another area that is lacking is a browser as there used to be one but now, nope. The weave editor also has gone which has to be said was one of the more complex areas of the app but it was fun working out the weave code to create some truly oddball weaves (mostly of no practical use but they were always one-offs). A selection of image floaters used to be available and that is another area I would love to see Painter improve such as perhaps adding a Painter equivalent to the CC libraries. It would also be wonderful if the application could have access to the old vast selection of stock photography that Corel used to sell (I still have a few of their CD disks of Victorian doors etc though personally I have never used them, why would I add Victorian doors to my work ?). The addition of the stock photography would be useful (as long as it is reasonably priced or even better, free)
Type / text is a weak area as well compared to some but it does have some nice unique feature such as the curve styles and blur and directional blur as well as external shadow and internal shadow. I would love to see a few more options added to that panel.
Painter has a weird and wonderful selection of unique filter effects and floater effects such as glass distortions based on clones and paper and image luminance etc, apply surface texture, lighting, blobs, auto van Gogh, express texture, apply marbling, custom tiles, mosaic, maze, pop art fill etc. Many of these tools have been around for ages and ages and I still find fun new things to do with them. If you add into the mix things like weaves, nozzles, looks, flow maps etc you can generate some truly amazing work. All you need is an art-pen and a pad and you are away.
Gradients are probably an area of Photoshop and Elements that seems to be totally overlooked. Checking out the tutorials on the subject on the web, there seems to be a dearth of details and examples though I would suggest that you check out the Youtube.com graphicxtras channel for 100s of tutorials ideas on how to use them. Gradients, for me, are one of the most useful and creative features, along with custom shapes, in Photoshop as well as in PS Elements
Shapes also seem to be overlooked, certain in comparison with brushes - which is odd as the shapes can be used to create a near infinite range of brushes and at any size but they are, on the other hand, limited to the size at creation time so if you want a 3000 x 3000 size brush and the brush is only 100 x 100 - you have a problem. That is also the advantage of the gradients, they can be used to any size.
The Photoshop gradients set is a useful toolkit for many great designs as you can use them like a vector design with any size of document or artwork. You can use them in multiple ways such as via the gradient tool and via the layer style dialog and layer fill as well as the standard fill (sadly there is no deco script feature for gradients as with patterns, perhaps that is one for the Photoshop CC 2017 CC 2018 ?). Of course, you can always turn the result of any gradient combination into a pattern and then use that in the deco scripts feature via the edit menu (not ideal but it is a workaround)
With the recent versions, you can now add multiple colors and glows and shadows and gradients to layer effects. They can all be combined using blending modes as well as using different positions and angles and lengths of gradients. The results can be saved to an ASL format.
The gradients can be combined in many different ways - via shapes and layer styles but also by using the opacity and blending modes (though many of the gradients in the graphicxtras 6 sets include transparency which does allow for multiple gradients to be combined to create literally millions of unique artworks). You can also combine the results of these gradients with adjustment layers so if you have a red-green design, you can quickly turn it into a blue artwork by using the color lookup adjustment layer. If you add the artwork / gradient to a layer, the layer can be turned into a smart object and then smart filters can be added so the gradient can be turned into an oil design or a cutup effect.
Would love to see the feature updated at some point such as adding an elliptical gradient, spiral gradient, reflected radial, randomization (as in SumoPaint) and others
A really powerful feature of Photoshop has to be the layer effects which is a combination of gradients as well as bevel and glows and shadows and strokes. It is perhaps not as powerful as the Affinity Photo approach to the layer effects and I have seen even more features added in other apps. With the latest CC 2015 release, even more features have been added to the dialog which can be found via the layer menu and via the styles panel.
The Photoshop styles are stored in ASL format files and can be loaded into PS and PS Elements and use with any layers such as shape layers and type layers and basic raster layers.
With CC, you can also use them in combination with other features in PS such as smart objects and adjustments.
Though I mention Photoshop a lot, not every one is happy with the subscription model and so everyone is always looking for a new alternative to that venerable tool and I think Affinity Photo is a great choice. The good thing about Affinity Photo and the designs on this site is that many of the presets such as the EPS files and PNG files work well with the app. The ABR files on this site, sadly, don't but you can always convert them and then use the latest format and use them in Affinity Photo.
OK, so why Affinity Photo. Well, first I have to say it is mac only at present. It has won loads of awards such as mac app of 2015 but that isn't all, it is just so amazingly quick and has 1000s of great features and it all works so super smoothly. It has been thought out with no legacy code in mind so instead of worrying that user X has always had to move this layer etc by this or that method, they have just (Serif) have just created a tool that works in a coherent and sensible and super fast way that doesn't always get in the way of creative work with excessive layers and sliders and no real time changes for layers etc. The effects are pretty amazing as well and it does have a neat mirror feature which is always a big thumbs up from me. Affinity does have a weird persona approach which means you have to enter specific studios to liquefy, manipulate the photo etc but I guess this is a very good way as it means the app can, in future, add additional persona which are then separate and can be slotted in without worrying about potential issues with the other part of the application. A feature such as pattern persona would be great where patterns can be generated in 1000s of ways, perhaps something for Affinity Photo 2. A frame persona would be a nice addition as well.
Affinity Photo has also a very decent upgrade path where updates are free for a period (not sure of the length) and that is always useful
Affinity Photo has a wonderful set of layer effects which are very flexible and fast as well as a lot of settings to tweak. The effects are split into filters which are fixed as well as a set of similar commands as live filters as a layer that can be added on top of other layers and effects as well as adjustments etc. Not all the filters, sadly, are live filters. I would love to see the Mirror filter added to the live filters section but I guess the distort ones are harder to achieve as live filters.
Affinity Photo has a great selection of shape designs. Photoshop has, for ages and ages, stuck with the core set of tools and Illustrator has had much the same and only now has been adding live effects. Well, Affinity Photo has a load of great live tools straight from version 1 such as callout ellipse tool, trapezoid tool, arrow tool, donut tool, crescent tool, tear tool and so on. I can only hope they add many others over the next few versions such as a cross tool, frame tool etc
There are a number of videos on the graphicxtras channel / Youtube.com relating to Affinity Photo. Also, Affinity Photo includes extensions that can be used with Apple Photo and that includes a decent selection of color manipulation tools to really tweak and improve any image.
Affinity Photo shares the world with Affinity Designer but many of the features in Photo are just perfect for most vector use. Designer is still worth checking out though. Would love to see an equivalent Affinity Video or Affinity 3D but I am not going to hold my breath as I would prefer Affinity Photo to be the best it can be without adding other tools. Perhaps a 3D persona, could see that as a separate section quite easily.
Another really good application to check out has to be Mischief. I have the Mischief-free but there is a more powerful version available and that has more presets as well as layer features and much more.
The Mischief tool is great for infinite sized artboard and has a really wonderful pencil sketch (only a few in the free version) as well as an eraser but that is perfect for creating ideas for comic books or illustrations etc. The sketching is also really fast and effective and you can zoom in to the image and continue drawing as well as rotate the artboard etc.
The free version is limited to PNG and JPG and Photoshop PSD for export as well as the Mischief format. It does mean that you can combine this app with other tools such as Clip Studio Paint etc to create many amazing artworks for comics, books, packaging etc
A really favourite application is 'Flame Painter 3 Pro' from Escape Motion and along with Flame Painter, there is the wonderful 'Amberlight' application that can be used to create some truly weird and wonderful backgrounds as well as overlays with noise / grain / flame and much more. Version 1 was pretty good and Amberlight 2 has just been released and now includes a timeline and video animations. Both applications are great for creating amazing patterns as well (you can tile the results of the work). Would love to see Flame Painter also get animations in a future version.
The results can be, unless you really work at combining multiple layers and effects, very similar but what amazing artworks they are and you can export the results of the Amberlight either as a movie or a still image and with Flame Painter, a still image. The exported imagery can then be manipulated further using tools such as Clip Studio Paint and also Photoshop and Painter. The flame features included in the Flame Painter 3 Pro are very similar to the wonderful particle brushes that you can now see in Painter 2015 and Painter 2016
One of the big products that the site had for many years was a set of SKS skeletal strokes and that was for a product from Creature House. Expression was eventually bought by Microsoft and you can still find the now free product on their site on their Expression page. Many of the resources on this site in the PNG format can also be used in Expression. I really loved the application as no other app has come anywhere near it when it comes to vector brush strokes.
Microsoft has produced a number of tools for graphics users over the years but sadly they have all generally vanished, such as the superb "Microsoft Image Composer" which came with a really powerful Photoshop plugin (very similar to the Xaos Paint Alchemy tool as well as Paint Engine). It used to come with Front Page. I doubt if it will work on a modern OS though. Of course, there is always Microsoft Paint.
If you don't want to purchase a copy of Affinity Designer or CorelDRAW or join the subscription model for Adobe Illustrator then a good choice would be the free Inkscape application. Inkscape is very powerful with a load of great features and is great for generating SVG (though I always end up editing the SVG generated from it for import into Dreamweaver). It is available for use on the PC and MAC and Linux. It has a decent tracing feature (though I have to say, my personal favourite tracing tool has to be CorelTrace but that is only available via the CorelDRAW suite - why can't that be released as a separate product as well). Anyway, Inkscape is easy to install and use.
Another couple to look for if you are looking to do some vector work, Xara Photo and Graphic Designer (this often turns up on the PC Pro special downloads so if you want to get a copy of Xara, I would suggest checking the PC Pro magazine in your local WH Smiths - no idea of the equivalent in the UK) and Serif Drawplus (free) and Canvas and they are also pretty decent for use with photos etc as well.
Sumopaint is just one amazing little application and you can either use it as a standalone app (supported by Adobe Air) or you can use it online for free though the free version has a lot less features it is still a powerful painting tool. You can find the free app on their website and you can save any of the work from the app to PNG and JPG and Sumo formats.
The painting features are pretty decent, simply select the brush tool and then the panel of different dabs as well as options gravity, scattering, random rotate, outline, spacing, wet edges, bevel, gravity speed and much more. It also includes a lovely symmetry feature so you can paint and everything is mirrored based on the center of the image (I would love to see symmetry added to Photoshop as well as Illustrator though that can be done via an additional plugin from Astute Graphics called MirrorMe). Oddly it comes with an additional symmetry brush that does have a cool random colors feature
You can add a whole range of different shapes and with a vast range of different fills such as gradients and patterns. The bulky star feature alone is worth a play as you can use it to create many wonderful shapes and these can all be added to layers and moved and manipulated further by the large selection of filters. The shape trails feature is pretty good as well and is similar to the tilde effect in Illustrator.
Sumopaint has a large number of filters including fractal designer, distort kaleidoscope, liquid waves, triangular pattern, twirl, wave lab, lighting effects, bumpmap, page turn and so on and they all have a number of controls to be able to manipulate artwork in 1000s of ways. The wave lab is a pleasure to use and is perfect for creating truly weird and wonderful images from any source.
The gradients are also wonderful in Sumopaint with a large selection of controls (such as hue, saturation and lightness) to manipulate the source gradient as well as the application of the preset, it also allows for the randomization of the gradient which I would love to see in more apps. The blend mode selection is not vast but they are all very effective. There also a few additional preset types such as spiral and radial reflected etc.
One area I would love to see improved in Sumopaint are patterns. You can fill items with a pattern but there is no equivalent pattern lab feature where you can create and save patterns. If there is, I have never found it.
The pro version does come with a whole range of new features for gradients etc. I have always enjoyed using the app. If you are upset with the prices and subscriptions of others, Sumopaint is definitely a tool to check out.
A really interesting and unusual and quirky graphic application to tryout is Acorn. It is for the mac and uses the core filters and is pretty fast and has a massive range of filters and image manipulation tools. It is not perhaps the most elegant of interfaces but it packs an awesome punch. If you are looking for some oddball filters such as Op Tile (I doubt if you will see a filter like that in Photoshop) as well as Glass Lozenge, Parallelogram, CMYK Halftone, Checkerboard and many more.
The tool is pretty good in that it adds the filters as a recipe which can be tweaked and moved and deleted as required. It also has some neat tricks with shapes and brush strokes and lot more. A truly unusual tool that needs to be checked out. Acorn graphics app for the mac from FlyingMeat
110 Core filters
Another application that is worth checking out if you want 100+ superb filters and it is also available via the appstore on the mac (oh, it is only mac based) and works in a similar way to the Acorn application in that you can build up a list of filters for a particular layer. The options are probably not as great as Acorn but it is very reasonably priced. Check out their website on rhapsoft.com
This has to be one of the more amazing filters currently available. There are probably slicker filters out there such as the Nik set but for sheer super powered filter effects it would be hard to beat the Filter Forge. The tool builds filters though sadly there is no feature to create an actual 8BF from that. Still, how many other apps can claim to include 11,000+ effects and not only that, 11,000 unusual ones that include building, frames, organic, patterns, stone, techno, creative and so on. The 8BF can be started up within the application or as a standalone (I actually prefer this option) and the tool is now, according to the website, on version 6 with a new super 64bit version. To use, you have to load one of the filters or create your own (if you have the correct version). I have different versions for different OS and so I can only use the version 2 on the PC and version 4 on my mac but that is not a big deal. Once you have selected the filter to run, it is loaded into the app and a whole range of unusual settings are available as well as a selection of presets.
I would say it is not the quickest tool but the renders do create some truly impressive results. The filter effects include unique forked lightning, twill weaves, cutline effects, different floor tilings, mandala makers, kaleidoscope, cheap wallpaper, geometric raised designs, watercolor effects and many more. The results, of course, can then be further manipulated by any number of other effects or combined with other filters in the series.
The editor is something else. It really is probably very easy once you know what you are doing and it is like a sweet shop of effects but wow, it is complex but with perseverance I am certain anyone can use it to create some truly amazing wow results. Each version of the FF includes many new features such as component grouping, loops and recursion, bezier curves etc.
There are a number of versions to check out as well as models of payment, and the best place to check out more about the product is the FF site. I don't think there really is another tool like it.
Sadly, the world of graphics is full of wonderful apps that have either been blended into others or just forgotten and discontinued such as the superb Adobe Fireworks, Imageready (ok, not so great), Photostyler from Aldus (could have been a contender), Microsoft Picture It, xRes (I loved that app), Extreme3D, Ray Dream Designer (ok, sort of like Carrara in places but there were some easy to use features in that app), iPhoto, Ultimate Paint, Ulead Photoimpact (always loved that, it was such a quirky app), Freehand (some parts of the app worked far better than Illustrator), Typestry (one of my favourite all time apps and one that still can be installed if you have a floppy A drive) and so on.
I am certain there are probably 1000s of other great apps out there in Japanese or German or Thai etc but it is so hard to know about them as they have never been ported into English. There are probably zillions of apps that were never released or half released but faded quickly when the money ran out). It is worth checking out some of the more foreign websites for truly great products and I always loved looking through the German graphics mags for apps that were truly obscure but had some amazing ways of working with graphics and pixels and vectors.
There was an amazing shop in Seattle WA that was packed solid with boxes (at the back of the store) of old software, Freehand v1 etc though I doubt if the store is still there and in many ways it has been superseded as many of these packages can be found on ebay etc but the main problem is that they are just not easy to install unless you are a whiz at tweaking your system to accept 20 year old software.
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